Twitter helps companies find miffed customers as they gripe

What are they saying about your business out there?

What if you could detect customer gripes, interrupt them, and address the problem immediately? Corporations are doing that, by searching for their company names on Twitter and contacting customers while they're complaining.

Welcome to Googling Yourself, 2.0.

Duke Energy and BofA both told me they do it. And small businesses in Charlotte say heading off public customer relations gripes only makes sense.

"Now, for the first time, you can pick up on a problem as it's happening, and address it right away," says Brandon Uttley, social media strategist for ad agency Wray Ward. (Among its social media clients: The new NASCAR Hall.)

Great example of heading off a PR problem: Famed entrepreneur and adventurist Peter Shankman was making a presentation in Jacksonville two months ago. He tweeted the complaint, "Dear Omni hotel: key lime pie: Win. Wi-Fi: fail." Omni corporate saw the complaint through a Twitter search, called Jacksonville, and the hotel addressed the problem within 15 minutes. "Someone else showed up with more pie," Shankman told me.

Hard to argue with more pie.

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